WNYO-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 49, is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station licensed to Buffalo, New York, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, as part of a duopoly with Fox affiliate WUTV (channel 29). The two stations share studios at 699 Hertel Avenue near Military Road in Buffalo; WNYO-TV's transmitter is located in Bennington, New York.
WNYO-TV can also be seen on cable television in parts of Canada; it is the MyNetworkTV affiliate on the digital tiers of cable providers in Canadian markets that carry stations from Buffalo, such as Toronto, and is also available in Kingston, Brockville, Cornwall, and Ottawa via a fiber optic line. However, neither WNYO-TV nor any other MyNetworkTV affiliate is available on cable in portions of Cattaraugus County, New York, which is served by Atlantic Broadband. This is due to financial demands as the must carry rule would normally apply in that area. In situations such as this, Atlantic usually picks up the station out of Erie, Pennsylvania, but that market has no MyNetworkTV affiliate of its own.
An early application for the Channel 49 license is on file for a WBBU-TV, which was granted a construction permit in 1966 but could not make it to air before the FCC purged the license from its database in 1970.
WNYB-TV signed on the air in September 1987, and was founded by the TVX Broadcast Group. Prior to signing on, it was sold to the Seymour Knox-Robert Swados group, original owners of the Buffalo Sabres NHL franchise, who had intended it to serve as an outlet (owned by Aud Television, LLC) to telecast the team's hockey games to Buffalo, Rochester, and the Niagara Peninsula region of Southern Ontario. This was in the era before the rise of regional sports cable networks such as MSG Network and Empire Sports Network. Financing of the transmitter was facilitated by the prospect of potentially using the five million watt signal for a late-night encrypted adult subscription service, which was available in many television markets in the Northeastern United States in the 1980s. However, the station never pursued this option due to the rapid growth of cable.
It had intended to sign on in the summer of 1987, but because many of the programs it was to carry would not become available to them until the fall, it rescheduled its debut until September of that year. WNYB-TV had secured the rights to Star Trek: The Next Generation, a major first-run syndicated program which debuted that fall. Due to the uncertainty that the station was going to be on the air by the fall of 1987, Paramount, the syndicator of the program (and the later buyer of the TVX chain) opted out of the deal with channel 49 and instead the program premiered on WUTV. The station's original slogan was "Buffalo's Superstation". In 1989, WUTV was one of several Fox affiliates nationwide unhappy with the network's weak primetime programming offerings. Fox then signed an affiliation agreement with WNYB-TV to become its new Buffalo affiliate in the fall of that year, while WUTV reverted to being an independent station full-time.
WNYB-TV did not stay with Fox for long, however; that same year, the station was sold to Act III Broadcasting which almost immediately turned around and offered to buy WUTV from Citadel Communications. Citadel accepted the offer in 1989 and the sale was finalized in June 1990. Act III moved WNYB-TV's stronger programming, including its Fox affiliation, to WUTV. WNYB-TV was then sold to Tri-State Christian Television and began to carry religious programming full-time including programming from the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Grant Broadcasting acquired the dormant channel 26 license in Jamestown in 1995 and negotiated with Tri-State Christian Television to acquire WNYB-TV in exchange for channel 26 and cash, as well as a new broadcasting facility.
The station changed hands in the spring of 1996 and became the market's original WB affiliate, with Kids' WB programming airing late in the afternoons. TBN and other Christian programming continued to air outside of late afternoon and primetime hours until September 1996. At that point, TBN programming continued to air from 9 a.m. to noon, from midnight to 7 a.m. on weekdays, and until 3 p.m. on Sundays. The station also changed its call sign to the current WNYO-TV on October 24. Because channel 26 was still not operable, the Christian WNYB intellectual unit was unable to move there in 1996. Finally in January 1997, the Christian programming moved to channel 26, along with the WNYB call letters. Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased WNYO-TV in 2001, creating a duopoly with WUTV, which it had already owned since 1997.
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (the parent company of UPN) and the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner announced that The WB and UPN would be shut down. The two companies decided to replace both The WB and UPN with The CW (the name representing the first initial of its corporate parents), a new network that combined select programs from those networks with newer series.
On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new network called MyNetworkTV. This new service, which would be a sister to Fox, would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created in order to give UPN and WB stations that were not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides becoming an independent station, and to compete against The CW. WNYO-TV became an affiliate of the network when MyNetworkTV launched on September 5, 2006.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|49.1||720p||16:9||WNYO-HD||Main WNYO-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
WNYO-TV carried TheCoolTV on digital subchannel 49.2 until September 2012, when the network was removed nationwide on all Sinclair stations carrying the network due to contractual issues. American Sports Network is now on that subchannel.
WNYO-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 49, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 34 to channel 49. (Channel 34 was reallocated to WVTT.) WNYO-TV's pre-transition digital transmitter was located on the northeastern side of Grand Island, it moved to its current location in Bennington post-transition.
On August 16, 2004, WNYO-TV established a news department and began airing an hour-long weeknight prime time newscast at 10 p.m. in an attempt to compete with the nightly WIVB-TV-produced news broadcast on WNLO. Known as WB 49 News at 10, it was part of Sinclair's centralized News Central operation based at the company's headquarters on Beaver Dam Road in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Although national news, weather forecasts, and some sports segments originated from News Central, local news and sports segments were based at WNYO-TV's studios. It also aired The Point, a one-minute conservative political commentary, as did all Sinclair-owned stations with newscasts.
The company ultimately chose to develop a news department for WNYO-TV as opposed to sister station WUTV, despite the fact that Fox requested its affiliates to air local news in the early 1990s to strengthen programming on the young fourth network. This was due to the fact that the ratings of the syndicated sitcom reruns at 10 p.m. on WUTV were especially high in southern Ontario. Ironically, WUTV was far more popular in Canada than it was its own home market, at times even beating Hamilton, Ontario independent CHCH-TV.
Roughly twelve months after the inaugural newscast on WNYO-TV, the national News Central operation officially folded at the end of March 2006, which effectively also forced the end of the WNYO-TV newscast. The newscast had shown some signs of growth, but never seriously challenged WNLO's 10:00 newscast, in part due to the lack of locally produced weather segments (Western New York has always placed a high priority on its local meteorologists, mainly due to the mesoscale influences of Lake Erie) and a general lack of investment. Prior to the News Central shutdown, WNYO-TV had the smallest local news staff of any of the four television newsrooms in Buffalo, even smaller than that of radio station WBEN.
On April 13 of that year, Sinclair announced that Gannett Company-owned NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV (channel 2) would begin producing a new weeknight prime time newscast at 10 p.m. for WNYO-TV through a news share agreement. This was WGRZ-TV's second attempt at a 10 p.m. newscast, after producing one for Pax TV (now Ion) owned-and-operated station WPXJ-TV (channel 51) from 2001 to 2003. Originally to be called 2 On NYO 10 at 10, the WNYO-TV newscast premiered on April 20 as 2 News on 49, 10 at 10; the newscast was later retitled as Channel 2 News at 10. It originated from WGRZ's studios on Delaware Avenue/NY 384 in Downtown Buffalo. The newscast originally aired ten minutes of news and weather with a sports program, called The Sports Zone, completing the half-hour. However due to low ratings, The Sports Zone was cut to only a 6–8 minute segment. It consistently lagged behind the WIVB-TV-produced newscast on WNLO in the ratings for numerous reasons. In 2011, the newscast was again reformatted to "10 at 10," which counts up the top news stories of the day in ascending order, from the tenth-most at the beginning of the newscast to the most important story near the middle. Although seemingly counterintuitive, the move did draw viewers who had already caught the top stories on WNLO and wanted to catch WNYO-TV's top stories.
On February 17, 2010, WGRZ became the first Buffalo station to offer its newscasts in widescreen enhanced definition. However, all of the video was still produced entirely in 4:3 standard definition, which was then cropped to a 16:9 aspect ratio and upconverted to 1080i in the control room for broadcast. The WGRZ newscast on WNYO-TV remained in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition as the station lacked a modern master control at its separate facility in order to receive the newscast in widescreen. WGRZ upgraded to full HD on October 29, 2011.
The WGRZ-produced newscast moved to sister station WUTV on April 8, 2013, trading places with the reruns of Seinfeld that had aired in that time slot on WUTV since the mid-1990s. WNYO-TV continued to air news programming, as a rebroadcast of the 6 a.m. hour of WGRZ's morning newscast aired weekdays at 7 a.m. on WNYO-TV, which began on April 8; plans called for this rebroadcast to also move to WUTV at some point in the future. The 7 a.m. repeat moved to WUTV on July 1, 2017 with the introduction of KidsClick programming on WNYO.
WNYO-TV continues to carry WGRZ 10 p.m. newscasts when WUTV carries Fox Sports live events that spill over into the 10 p.m. time slot.
Notable current on-air staff
- John Beard - weekday mornings (7:00-8:00 a.m.)